There is a certain climate that must characterize our assemblies. It is something that will require the extensive effort of everyone. Our primary appeal is to the heart--the sensitivity of the people of God. Those enslaved to sin should feel uncomfortable among believers (1 Cor. 14:24-25). They should sense the enormity of their sin and the marvelous attractiveness of the Savior. Those engaged in the good fight of faith should be encouraged and comforted. They should come away convinced that their labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). If this does not happen, our assemblies have only been a mockery, and is a waste of our valuable time.

This cannot be accomplished by simply orchestrating our procedures or rehearsing the activities of the meeting. It is possible to produce an impressive environment in this manner, but it is of no value unless heavenly resources are marshaled and made available to the saints. You must remember that the tabernacle and temple services were precise in procedure. Yet, they could not make the "comers," or worshipers, perfect in their conscience (Heb. 10:1-3). If a God-ordained form could not accomplish what God wanted, you can be sure one contrived by people will be unable to do it.

Properly viewed, the Lord's day is a spiritual eclipse. Heaven should eclipse earth, God overshadow men, Jesus outshine "things," and the contemplation of our heavenly inheritance neutralize the sufferings brought on by our faith. The "Sun of righteous" has risen with "healing in His rays" (Mal. 4:2), and He must be allowed to shine brightly in our gatherings!

Setting the Tone for the week

Our weekly assemblies set the tone for the rest of the week. They are to take us up to the top of the mountain, where we can survey the promised land. They must furnish us with a reason to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. They are to provide incentive to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts" (Tit. 2:12). Living godly in an unusually godless society is challenging. This necessitates large incentives and strong encouragements. These are to be highlighted in our assemblies: that is the primary purpose for their existence. It is tragic when a Lord's day assembly obscures the very things required to overcome the world. Such things are not necessary, and they are not right. Each assembly must determine it will not allow this to happen. When people inadvertently draw our attention to things that have no eternal consequence, an effort must be made to redirect our focus. No person or assembly will be able to "lay up" treasures in heaven, if attention is not focused there.

Events within the assembly should move toward the center of the kingdom, as we zealously avoid the tendency to end on the perimeter of spiritual realities. Things with lesser relation to the faith-life should be at the beginning of the assembly, if given a place at all. As things progress, we should move into a greater consciousness of the Lord's presence. If our assemblies do not usher people into the presence of the Almighty, they will contribute to a departure from Him. There is no neutrality in Christ: it is forward or backward, pressing toward the mark or drawing back to perdition (Heb. 10:38-39). A conscious awareness of God's presence includes a cognition of His Person, salvation, and precious promises. When these are dominant in our minds, we are aware of His presence.